As Manchester City extend their winning run to 15 games, the Premier League title race looks all but over just 18 games into the season with an eleven point lead opened up between first and second, the question on my mind is…..Has the Premier League declined in both quality and entertainment?
The narrative that is predominantly associated with the Premier League is (or once was) “anyone can beat anyone”, however, this is no longer the case. Over the last 18 months, the disparity between the top six of the Premier League and the rest has been there for all to see with the financial power and clear contrast in quality of the top sides making for a less competitive division overall.
Whilst Premier League fans are quick to dismiss leagues such as Serie A and La Liga as less competitive, this is simply not true should last season and this, be anything to abide by; with the current points difference (11) between fourth place and first place in La Liga the same as the gap between table-toppers Manchester City and second placed Manchester United, whilst over in Italy nine points separate Inter Milan (1st) and Lazio (5th)
Whilst many people have been quick to label Everton’s season as disastrous, The Toffees have moved from 16th to 10th within the space of four league games and currently sit level on points (at present date) as ‘high-flying Watford’, does this show that the overall quality in the Premier League has deteriorated?
Final day drama?
The Premier League has been renowned for it’s down to the wire drama ever since its formation back in 1992. However, the title race has not been decided on the final day in four seasons, and based on Manchester City’s current form that doesn’t look like it shall be changing anytime soon.
At the other end of the spectrum, all three relegation spots have been decided before the final day of the season for five consecutive seasons, meaning that the majority of games in the Premier League on the final game are somewhat meaningless.
Kill or be killed
Such is the financial divide between the top six and the bottom fourteen, games between the ‘big’ teams and the ‘lesser’ teams make for fairly uninspiring viewing at times.
A prime example of this scenario has been West Brom, a team that has been infamous for their negative and frustrating yet effective style of play. The Baggies have stifled Liverpool and Tottenham this season with their anti-football making for frustrating affairs against the big boys. Yet can we blame them?……no. The financial rewards of maintaining Premier League status is too good to risk, the three year parachute payments for relegated sides add additional pressure on relegated sides to get back into the big time before debts and inflated wages take their toll.
Since their relegation in 2015, Queens Park Rangers have turned into a mid-table Championship side and in the absence of Premier League payments now face debts surpassing over £30 million! Ultimately, this league is kill or be killed and therefore we cannot be too judgemental of these boring, anti-football styles of play.
Managerial merry go-round
Whilst the top six of the Premier League boasts some of the elite managers in the game at the moment, the majority of the remaining teams in the division are left with mediocre managers (with the exception of a few.)
So far this season Crystal Palace, Everton,West Brom and West Ham have all parted ways with their managers and have appointed “has-been” managers of the Premier League, with old heads such as Alan Pardew, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce and Roy Hodgson all being called upon once more. All ‘safe appointments’ renowned for their conservative and uninspiring brand of football.
I think that these ‘safe’ appointments of these old school managers is uninspiring and doesn’t reflect well on the reputation of the Premier League. In the Bundesliga, teams such as Hoffenheim and Schalke have been praised for their bold appointments of young aspiring managers such as Julian Nagelsmann and Domenico Tedesco who have shown they are more than capable of stepping up to the plate.
Chelsea under 18’s manager Jody Morris has won a domestic double at youth level and has been a key component to The Blues success at youth level, yet is ignored and not trusted with a senior role in the Premier League. Managerial shortlists in the last six months have consisted of the same recycled Premier League failures; e.g Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce and Walter Mazzarri.
Quite frankly, this does not reflect well on the long term ambitions of the Premier League, with ‘a steady pair of hands’ always the quick fix.
What do you make of these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!